Daleville, VA to Waynesboro, VA
AT Miles = 18.5 / 737.1
Other Miles = 0.4 / 30.3
Total Miles = 18.9 / 767.4
I didn't want to hike today. It rained cats and dogs last night, and it was cloudy and warm and muggy this morning. Just lying in bed watching TV really appealed to me. But I am trying to get up to Shenandoah NP by Memorial Day weekend, and I'll never get there sitting in a motel room.
I was lucky and talked the motel clerk into bringing my bounce box to the post office, so saved myself a long road walk. I was off around 9:30. The trail leaving Daleville just follows along the right of waqy of I-81 north for a couple miles, which makes for a very strange walk.
Eventually the trail worked its way out of town, through some farm fields, and up into the hills. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make the 18 miles I planned, since I got such a late start. But once I started walking I was feeling good and after two short days I made great time.
This afternoon I reached the point where the AT meets the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), and then parallels it north. It felt like an old friend, as way back in '97 (?) I did a bike tour along the Skyline Drive and the BRP as far south as the James River. That's quite a ways north of here, but being alongside the BRP again felt nice. I even had a nice chat with some people at one of the overlooks where the trail comes out of the woods and crosses the road.
I haven't seen any turtles the whole hike so far, but today I have seem three. I also saw a rabbit, and quite a large black snack; all actually on the trail.
It is quite muggy and heavy tonight. I expect it's going to be a hard night to sleep. I am hoping to do another 18 mile day tmorrow. Till then...
AT Miles = 18.3 / 755.4
Other Miles = 0.2 / 30.5
Total Miles = 18.5 / 785.9
It was warm and very muggy last night. Given that, I didn't expect to sleep very well, yet I did.
I was up and out early this morning. I always seem to be the first one up in the morning so I have to tip toe around eating breakfast and packing up.
Soon after leaving the shelter the trail crosses the BRP two times. At the second crossing an older couple were pulled over at the overlook and we chatted for a few minutes. They were very impressed when I told them I had hiked over 700 miles, and they asked to take my picture. See, everyone really does get their 15 minutes of fame!
The rest of the day was hike, hike, hike. It was pleasant enough, just nothing special to report. In this section the BRP swings east to go to Peaks of Otter, while the AT stays west, so I wasn't crossing the road during the day.
I stopped for first and second lunch -- I eat lunch twice every day when I am hiking -- and when I left from the 2nd lunch around 2:00PM I could hear thunder in the distance. It was getting closer and closer. I was still 5 miles from the shelter, and the first 4 of those 5 were a steady uphill. I hiked quite hard -- it was very sweaty work -- and managed the 4 uphill miles in 1:30 and the last dowbhill mile in 20 minutes, expecting the skies to open up every minuite. Well, the rain still hasn't arrived.
There is a weekend hiker named Andrew here tonight. After I cleaned up, set up my hammock, and did other chores, we were sitting and chatting when another man walked around the shelter from an unexpected direction. Apparently there is a side trail from the BRP (about 0.3 miles away) to the shelter, and John asked us if we would like some trail magic. Well, of course we would! So John and Andrew both walked back to John's car parked on the BRP, and a few minutes later came back with a two burner Coleman stove, a soft-sided cooler, and a backpack. John then proceeded to fire up the stove, warm up the griddle, and cook us eggs and sausage and pancakes. He also had a full gallon of orange juice. John kept cooking just as long as we could keep eating. Being the only thru-hiker here, I easily ate Andrew under the table. Then we all sat around and chatted about this and that. What a wonderful way to spend the evening! Thanks, John.
I asked John why he was doing this and he told us that his son, Snakebite, hiked the trail a coujple of years ago and had told him about all the wonderful things people did for him, so John was tgrying to pay some of that forward. A great guy.
Andrew is just here for the night, but he said he packed some extra food just so he could give it to any threu-hikers he met, so he gave me a bag of gnocchi along with some fresh cheese and sauce mix. That sounds like a great meal and I will eat that tomolrrow night.
So I had been planning to hitch iknto the little town of Glasgow on Monday to resupply, and have been worried because all that is listed in the book for Glasgow is a small convenience store and a Dollar General. But now I think I have enough food to wait until Tuesday when I can hitch into Buena Vista, which has a real grocery store.
AT Miles = 21.6 / 777.0
Other Miles = 0 / 30.5
Total Miles = 21.6 / 807.5
After Trail Angel John left last night, Andrew and I were left at the shelter.
We decided to have a fire for the evening, and when I say we, I mean that I sat on the picnic table bench while Andrew buillt a fire. We discussed all the usual topics, and managed to solve about 90% of the problems in the world. Now all that is left is to implement our solutions.
At one point just a few minutes before dusk, we spotted a deer hanging ou at the edge of the trees just to the side of the shelter. We stared at each other for a few minutes, then the deer finally decided to wander off into the woods.
Around 9:00 or so the rain that had threatened all afternoon finally arrived, with a vengeance. It was raining hard enough that I sat in the shelter until nearly 10:00 beforee the rain eased enough that I could make a dash for my hammock and get tucked in all nice and cozy.
It was still raining when I woke up this morning so I went back to sleep and tried again an hour later. Well, it was STILL raining, but not as hard. Due to the rain I got a late start. It was a long day, and I pushed hard for 21 miles. I have now crossed the James River, which feels like an accomplishment.
I have been pushing really hard lately, and I need to ease up. My feet are taking a bating, and I did something to tweak my knee today. It's quite sore now. I've taken some ibuprofen tonight, which I rarely do.
Last night's storm was caused by a cold front coming through. The temperature is in the 50s right now, and the forecast is calling for the temperature to fall below freezing tonight!
This shelter site is hopping with people. There is a big group from some private residential school camped here. They must have gotten really wet in last night's storm, as when I got here there were sleeping bags haqnging from the trees.
AT Miles = 18.3 / 795.3
Other Miles = 0.4 / 30.9
Total Miles = 18.7 / 826.2
So, kind of a mixed day. Today is the two month anniversary of the day I started my hike; that's certainly a high point. But there were other, both high and low, points to the day.
Yesterday afternoon I met an older hiker named One Stick at the shelter 4 miles south of where we both eventually ended up for the night. One Stick was in pain. He had been having problems with his leg for many days, and by last night his leg was swollen from his knee clear down to his ankle.
This morning while I was getting ready to eat breakfast One Stick was leaving camp, and he told me he was hiking back (thru-hikers never, ever, hike back) to the road to hitch into Glasgow and wait for his wife to drive down and bring him home. One Stick was very emotional and working hard to hold back the tears. It was hard talking to him. On a selfish level, being forced to get off the trail due to an injury is in the back of every hiker's mind, and I felt almost like I wanted to stay away from him so I wouldn't "catch" it. So yeah, I am a creep.
Later on in the morning I met Foot Note as he was hiking soiuth and I was hiking north. He was radiating contentment and satisfaction, and he told me he was within 50 miles of finishing his flip-flop thru-hike. After chatting for a few minutes I congratulated him and shook his hand.
So, I was planning an easy 9 mile day today. I slept late, took my time eating and breaking camp, and even washed a pair of socks so I will have clean, dry socks to hike in tomorrow. It was almost 9:00 when I left camp. The weather today was perfect, cool, dry, and sunny, and the trail was both easy hiking and interesting, offering views back to the James River and out over the surrounding mountains. I found myself at my planned ending point at 1:00, and it was just too nice a day not to keep hiking, so I continued on to the next shelter. My right knee is still a bit tender from yesterday, but it felt okay hiking and my feet are better than they were yesterday.
Oh, I blew out the side of one of my boots. I was hoping they would last a few hundred more miles. Jodi, I hope you're reading this. Bring my other pair of boots when you come down!
$180 and they lasted two months to the day!
AT Miles = 15.8 / 811.1
Other Miles = 0 / 30.9
Total Miles = 15.8 / 842.0
Cold! Damn, but it was cold last night! The temperature dropped to just above freezing down in the hollow where we were camped. That would have been fine if I still had my warmer seeping bag and my heavier long johns, but those were sent home back in Pearisburg. I slept alright until about 4:00AM, when I woke up with feet feeling like ice cubes and definitely feeling the cold penetrating through the bottom ofmy hammock.
You'd think, that being the case, that I would have been up and about early. Well, you'd be wrong. When it's cold it is really hard to get out of the sleeping bag, so I didn't get started on the day's hike until nearly 9:00AM.
The first five miles were all uphill, so I was soon thoroughly warmed up and stripped down too running shorts and running shirt. It was a gorgeous day for hiking; sunny and dry and cool. I sat atop Cold Mountain for over an hour eating lunch, admiring the view, and having a long cell phone conversation with my daughter, Anju. It did my heart good to talk to her. Boy, how I miss her!
I also talked to Jodi, and we firmed up plans for her to come scoop me off the trail on Thursday and transport me back to civilization for a brief visit. Jodi will be in D.C. for her nephews bar mitzvah, and she's borrowing her sister's car and driving out here to see me. Hurrah! It's been over two months since we've seen each other and I miss her dearly. I am SO excited!
When I left Daleville I planned to resupply on Monday, but I've ended up stretching my supplies to last until Thursday. Well, they won't really stretch quite that far, and I just ate my last supper. Tomorrow is going to be pretty lean, and I plan to eat everything in my food bag tomorrow -- which isn't much -- with the exception of some cold cereal for Thursday's breakfast and maybe a granola bar.
AT Miles = 14.4 / 825.5
Other Miles = 0.2 / 31.1
Total Miles = 14.6 / 856.6
Today was a short day at only a bit over 14 miles. Just like short
weeks at work, short days on the trail often seem to last forever.
The views from Spy Rock in the morning were fabulous, then I dug in to
climb The Priest, which seems a strange name for a mountain. I stopped
at The Priest Shelter on the way up to do some of my laundry and to
eat lunch. After lunch I finished the climb up and then was faced with
four miles of steep downhill coming down the other side. Oh, my aching
I did see a deer at one of the switchbacks on the way down, and she
stood still long enough for me to take several photos. That was pretty
At the end of the day I crossed the Tye River and climbed a thousand
feet in two miles to get to Harpers Creek and the Harpers Creek
Shelter. Since I had stretched my food supply out from 4 days to 7
days, all I had left for dinner tonight is some cashews and raisins,
and a foil pack of tuna. Yummy! I saved a half a bowl of granola and
one granola bar for tomorrow. That should get me the 8 miles to where
Jodi is meeting me, then it will be into town where I can eat all I
Allen F. Freeman
AT Miles = 8.4 / 833.9
Other Miles = 0 / 31.1
Total Miles = 8.4 / 865.0
I was up at the crack of dawn this morning, and on the trail before
7:00. My goal today was simple and straightforward; hike the 8+ miles
to where Jodi was to meet me before 11:00AM, when she was due to meet
Between me and Jodi was Chimney Rocks and Three Ridges Mountain, a
2000' climb. Well, Three Ridges Mountain was not only steep, but quite
rocky. I can power up a few miles of steep trail, but the rocks
required slowing down and picking my way up in order to stay safe. It
was frustrating because I started to fear I would be late and Jodi
I kept pushing hard and actually managed to reach the rendesvous point
by 10:30. Just before that I finally had decent cell phone reception,
and I got a call from Jodi telling me that she was pretty much
hopelessly lost. Well, Jodi is an intelligent and resourceful woman,
so she managed to get herself straightened out and headed in the right
direction, but it did mean that I had to sit there for an extra hour
or so thinking about how hungry I was.
When Jodi arrived I was, of course, thrilled. After over two months it
was wonderful to see her face and hear her voice in person rather than
over the phone. We drove into Waynesboro and hit the drive-thru at
Wendys even before checking into our hotel, then we went out to lunch
and ate again. After an afternoon of doing laundry, swimming in the
indoor pool, and soaking in the hot tub, we drove out to Staunton and
had a great dinner at an Italian restaurant. Oh, and over dinner I
talked Jodi into staying over an extra day, so tomorrow I will be
zeroing here in Waynesboro!
Allen F. Freeman
AT Miles = 0 / 833.9
Other Miles = 0 / 31.1
Total Miles = 0 / 865.0
As I think I mentioned yesterday, I talked Jodi into staying over an
extra day before driving back to Bethesda. It was a wonderful day. In
the morning we went to the post office so I could pick up my bounce
box, then to ther grocery store, and finally out to the outfitters so
I could buy stover alcohol and a couple of other small iems.
When we pulled into the outfitter's parking lot I spotted Sir Richard
with a few other hikers. I haven't seen Sir Richard since Atkins, and
was surprised to see him here in town. It turns out that he has
suffered from shin splints so has been in town for three days, and is
heading back out to the trail tomorrow.
After finishing our shopping, Sir Richard joined Jodi and I and we
drove out to Staunton and walked around a bit until we found a nice
pub out at the old train station where we spent a couple of hours in
coversation and having lunch and a couple of beers.
Once we were back in Waynesboro we dropped off Sir Richard back at the
YMCA lot where they allow hikers to camp for free, so that he could
finish his resupply shopping. Jodi and I headed back to our hotel
where I tried to get my gear organized (there's still lots of
organizing to be done), and I spent some time in the hot tub and the
swimming pool. Aah, this thru-hiking gig is hard work!
In the evening, by prearrangement, we picked up Sir Richard again and
we all drove back to Staunton for a wonderful meal at the best
restaurant we could find. The meal was accompanied by much good
conversation. I am really glad Sir Richard got to meet Jodi, as I have
of course spent hours talking about her during evenings along the
All this luxury has to come to an end, and tomorrow after lunch Jodi
will drop me back on the trail and I will get back to my other life of
no showers and one pot meals. I should hike through Rockfish Gap and
into Shenandoah National Park sometime on Sunday.
Allen F. Freeman
Well, best laid plans and all of that...
Jodi was supposed to drop me back on the Blue Ridge Parkway today, and
I was going to resume my hike north. But I got a call from Anju early
this morning telling me that she had delivered her son, and my new
grandson, Anthony. So a change of plans has occured. I drove back to
Bethesda with Jodi today. Right now I am at my in-law's house, and
tomorrow I will be flying home to Boston. On Monday or Tuesday,
whichever suits Anju better, I'll drive down to Connecticut for a
I am thrilled that Anju and the baby are both fine, and excited to
soon them soon. At the same time I am already missing the trail. I
guess that's a good thing, as it reassures me that I am not burning
out on the trail, and makes me even more confident that I will finish
the hike, barring some unavoidable injury.
So, you may not hear from me for a while. I'm not exactly sure how
long I'll be home. Maybe until next weekend. I have to figure out how
I am going to get myself back to the spot on the trail where I got off
Allen F. Freeman
Man, I can't believe how long it's been since I've hiked. For over a
week I have been a total sloth, and it's really making me a cranky,
hard to live with, person.
Well, on Sunday I am heading back to Virginia and come Sunday night I
should be hanging in my hammock somewhere along the AT. I just booked
a flight to Charlottesville, VA, and have arranged to get a shuttle
from there back to the Three Ridges Overlook on the Blue Ridge
Parkway, which is where I got off the trail last Thursday morning. My
flight doesn't touch down in Charlottesville until about half noon, so
it will be well into mid-afternoon before I get hiking. Since it's
about 14 miles from the overlook to the first shelter north, I expect
I will be hanging my hammock somewhere other than a shelter or
campsite. No worries, all I need is a couple of trees and I'm good.
I drove out to the Blue Hills and walked the 4+ miles around Ponkapoag
Pond this afternoon. Oh boy, was that strange! My knees were wonky,
and my calves ached by the time I was done! I sure hope I can get back
into the swing of hiking without too much difficulty.
Tomorrow I am driving down to Connecticut to visit Anju and the baby
again, then hustling back to Boston in time for Friday night Date
Night with Jodi. On Saturday I'll shop for food for the hike through
Shenandoah National Park, and get my pack squared away. I will also
head to the post office and send my bounce box off to Front Royal, at
the northern end of SNP. Then on Sunday morning Jodi will drop me at
the airport and I'll be on my way.
I got an email today from CuppaJoe and Paulman. They are in Front
Royal taking a zero day. I feel like I should be there as well, and
that I am somehow behind schedule. That's silly, and I know I am
making good time and right on target to make it to Katahdin sometime
in September, but I struggle everyday with this feeling that I am
falling behind just becausse I haven't been hiking for a week. I ope I
can put this unease to rest soon, as it sure could ruin a hike!
Allen F. Freeman